Cracking down on crack houses
Bermuda - Government is looking to beef up laws which sanction the closure of crack houses. National Drug Control Minister Wayne Perinchief said Bermuda could follow the UK’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 which gave new powers to control properties or locations where drug sales were causing serious nuisance or disorder.
Last year Government announced they would be closing 17 crack houses and recently properties in Pembroke and Warwick have been targeted. Government uses a housing act which allows it to close homes unfit for habitation but that act has little use for tackling drug runners operating out of ordinary houses in respectable neighbourhoods. However, Police in Britain can issue a closure notice which must be considered by magistrates within 48 hours – regardless of weekends or bank holidays. Once approved, the order closes the premises for up to three months while extensions can take it to six months. Tenants or landlords who breach the order can be jailed.
The act is designed to cut through red tape to help tackle acute problems.Mr. Perinchief said: “There is much more instant power for the Police.“You would get a closure order. The onus would be on the owner to take actions to clean it up.“The owner of the place could be running drugs out of their house and I know of some places in Bermuda where that applies – it is a decent dwelling but there is so much movement back and forth and the owners are known to Police as people with drug dealing convictions. “Under the present legislation, we would not be able to seize that place or issue a closure order.
With this act, the place could be shut down.”Mr. Perinchief hopes to introduce this policy shift in tandem with moves to downgrade cannabis offences.
By Matthew Taylor